Cathedral State Park, WV   Dale J. Luthringer
  Sep 24, 2003 06:49 PDT 
Bob & Will,

Here's a link to take a look at this huge double hemlock (~21ft CBH):

and a park map:

Looks like I'm definitely going there today!


Cathedral State Park, WV    Dale J. Luthringer
   Sep 26, 2003 20:08 PDT 
Bob, Will, et. al.,

I was able to spend a bit of time Friday in Cathedral State Park in West
Virginia. The steep meandering drive along RT50 over the mountain tops
revealed incredible vistas of this absolutely gorgeous section of the
state. Cathedral State Park is located in the extreme Northeastern part
of West Virginia about 5 miles from the Maryland border. RT 50 runs
right through the site. Park literature states the site is 133 acres.
A website that I sent earlier stated that there was an E. hemlock there
at >21ft CBH x >120ft high. It even showed a picture of a large double
hemlock on the site. I walked almost every trail in this site and was
not able to find any large double hemlock, let alone any tree that came
close to ~21ft CBH. I wouldn't be surprised if someone messed up the
stats on this website. Bob, weren't you here before? If so, what was
your take of the area?

The biggest tree in the park (according to signage near the parking area)
is located directly behind the ranger's quarters at the edge of the
woodline. The tree is impressive, even though it was no way near ~21ft
CBH. It is definitely the largest single stem hemlock I have had the
pleasure of viewing. They have built a ~20'x20' deck platform around it
which stands about 4-5ft off the ground. The tree has a massive CBH at
~16.2ft. The height wasn't significant though at 94.3ft. They named
the tree the 'Centennial Hemlock'. The rangers told me it was struck by
lightning. Part of the top is dieing off, but the rest of the tree
appears solid. A sign at the platform put the tree at ~120ft and being
~20ft higher before the lightning strike. There is no way this tree was
ever 140ft in the last 100 years.

The website stated that most of the site as "virgin hemlock and hardwood
forest" and the "last virgin forest in the state". Hemlock are very old
here showing an impressive gnarl factor. I wouldn't doubt that there
could be a good number of hemlock in the 400-600 year age class. I did
note an old logslide (now an eroded hiking trail) that went through and
exited out the north end of the park. There were some old N. red oak,
white oak, black cherry, red maple, Am. beech, and black birch here, but
not very many. The oldest oak, cherry, and maple specimens had defects
in them from long ago. I'm suspecting that they left them from a past
select cut that occurred on the edges of this site. I didn't find any
very old high quality oak, black cherry, or maple here.

The best part of the old growth was in the middle of the site along the
stream bed. This portion was definitely primary "virgin" forest. It
reminded me of the ancient hemlock of the Cataloochie with a thick
rhododendron understory. I didn't have time to search the old growth
south of RT50 though... 1 more hour of sampling time probably would've
covered it. It was an impressive site for gnarly hemlock.

Literature stated that they had trees in the site that approached 100ft.
Most trees didn't go over 100ft, but I was able to pull out one 130ft
class hemlock adjacent to the creek in the best section of the primary
forest, and some other species in the 100ft and 110ft class. The day's
tally as follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Comments

Am. beech        7.5        101.6

Black birch        8.8        96.1+    >150 years

Black cherry      8.8        96.1+
Black cherry      8.2        111.3
Black cherry      11.4      113.7    >200 years

E. hemlock        13.1      N/A       snag
E. hemlock        16.2      94.3      'Centennial Hemlock' 39 19.605N x
79 32.032W
E. hemlock        N/A       105.4
E. hemlock        11.3      106.3
E. hemlock        N/A       107.4
E. hemlock        9.9        108.6
E. hemlock        12.3      111.2    new 12x100 class
E. hemlock        11.3      112
E. hemlock        9.9        130.3    tallest in the stand         39
19.613N x 79 32.336W

N. red oak         11.9      100.5    CBH above burl, very old tree >225

Red maple         9.4        84.1+    >175 years
Red maple         8.9        105.6    

White oak         10.6      93.3      >200 years

If you were near the area, Cathedral State Park would definitely make a
nice excursion trip for anyone interested in observing a remnant old
growth forest stand in West Virginia. I just can't help but think what
else the state may hold in private property settings. maybe I'll have to
remember to bring my flack jacket next time.

Re: Cathedral State Park, WV
  Sep 27, 2003 04:57 PDT 


   The measurements you site are very close to the ones I got and slightly
under those that Rick Landenberger got. My girth measurement was 16.5' and that
of Rick about 16.8'. My height measurement was approximately 94 feet. The
measurements for other trees are virtually identical. Great job. I remember the
12-footer. The light was fading when I was there, so I only measured hemlock.
But all my observations of the location coincide with yours. I do also agree
that it is a very worthwhile detour for anyone in the area.

Hey, you were only 3 species shy of a Rucker Index. I think, extended to 10
species, the index would fall. For 7, it's 105.9.

RE: Cathedral State Park, WV   Dale J. Luthringer
  Sep 29, 2003 08:10 PDT 


I have to admit that my girth measurement (~16.2') was probably a bit
low. The sign had it at 16.5' also. I was more inclined to get a
decent height before I lost good lighting. It was the last tree I
measured that day.

Yes, I think the Rucker Index would fall a bit also. I think there were
a few yellow birch and white ash in there, but neither were of
remarkable height. The white ash probably just made it to 100', but I
wouldn't put the yellow birch much higher than 80'. Great rhododendron
and witch hazel made up most of the understory, but I didn't spend the
time needed to measure them. I doubt that I'll make a second trip to
the site any time soon. That was the first time I ever made it off the
major highways in West Virginia. What a gorgeous state.